How Enron Scandal Harmed the Environment

Moves by Enron executives not only swindled investors and employees, but also prevented the wider adaptation of renewable energy sources, contends Gary Gallon.

Published: 05-Feb-2002

Enron Corp., not only mismanaged its finances, ruined pension investments for thousands of people. Not only did it "cook the books" and make many of its executives rich beyond their wildest dreams, while at the same time bankrupting the company. Enron and some of its key executives also harmed the environment and harmed the development of environmentally-sounding energy source development. How did the Enron executives harm the environment?

First, Enron, led by CEO Kenneth L. Lay, lobbied for oil, coal, and natural gas energy development over solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. Ken Lay was a close friend of then Governor George W. Bush and later, President Bush. He worked closely with Bush and his Vice President, Dick Cheney on energy issues first in Texas and later during the development of the National Energy Plan. While Bush and Cheney continue to use the Watergate argument not to release the names of whom they met with on the development of the oil-coal-& gas laden energy plan, investigators did learn that Lay met several times with Cheney and the National Energy Plan group helping to rule out renewables.

Secondly, there is some concern that Enron, with others were able to inflate the price of electricity in California during the energy crisis and artificially hold the price up until the time Enron began to collapse. The extremely high prices of electricity nearly brought California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electricity (PG&E) to the edge of bankruptcy. The massive loses and the high contracts California locked into resulted in a slowdown for the support for wind and other renewables in California by the two companies and by the state.

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